Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
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|Formed||July 1, 1970|
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Pennsylvania|
|Headquarters||8th Floor, Keystone Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania|
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) oversees transportation issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The administrator of PennDOT is the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, currently Yassmin Gramian. Presently, PennDOT supports over 40,500 miles (65,200 km) of state roads and highways, about 25,000 bridges, as well as new roadway construction, the exception being the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, although they currently follow PennDOT policies and procedures. In addition, other modes of transportation are supervised or supported by PennDOT. These include aviation, rail traffic, mass transit, intrastate highway shipping traffic, motor vehicle safety & licensing, and driver licensing. PennDOT also supports the Ports of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Erie. The current budget is approximately $3.8 billion in federal and state funds. The state budget is supported by the motor vehicle fuels tax which is dedicated solely to transportation issues.
In recent years, PennDOT has focused on intermodal transportation. This is a broad attempt to enhance both commerce and public transportation.
PennDOT employs approximately 11,000 people.
PennDOT has extensive traffic cameras set up throughout various parts of major cities in the state, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, Allentown (Lehigh Valley), and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The latter's cameras are fed through to a television channel for Service Electric cable customers in Wilkes-Barre. These cameras are primarily installed for ITS purposes, not for law enforcement (as opposed to speed cameras).
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was created from the former Department of Highways by Act 120, approved by the legislature on May 6, 1970. The intent of the legislation was to consolidate transportation-related functions formerly performed in the Departments of Commerce, Revenue, Community Affairs, Forests and Waters, Military Affairs and other state agencies.
PennDOT is responsible for constructing and maintaining a system of roads at the sole expense of the state. It controls more than 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of roadway. Townships control approximately 51,376 miles (82,682 km) of roads and streets; boroughs, 9,460 miles (15,220 km) and cities 6,779 miles (10,910 km). In all, there are more than 118,226 miles (190,266 km) of public roads, streets and toll roads in the Commonwealth.
Greatest growth in the state highway system occurred in 1931 when 20,156 miles (32,438 km) of rural roads were taken over by the Commonwealth. At that time, the Department of Highways, at the direction of Governor Gifford Pinchot, embarked upon an extensive program of paving rural roadways, well known as the "get the farmer out of the mud" program.
The Federal Government in 1916 instituted grants to the states for highway construction. These grants continue today and now comprise the key element in determining the size of the state's roadbuilding programs.
State payments to local communities for road maintenance also have continued to expand so that they average approximately $170 million annually.
The agency went into well-noted organizational decline. An effort to bring quality management principles to PENNDOT over an extended period—four changes of state governor—accomplished a great deal.
PennDOT is organized into five deputates which oversee various transportation functions.
The Highway Administration deputate oversees 39,737 miles (63,951 km) of roadway and 25,400 bridges in Pennsylvania which comprise the Pennsylvania State Route System. The deputate is made up of over 9,300 employees in design, construction, maintenance, materials testing, environmental review, safety, and traffic engineering. There are eleven engineering districts located throughout the state.
Driver & Vehicle Services
PennDOT is responsible for motor vehicle titles and registration along with issuing driver licenses through the Driver & Vehicle Services deputate. There are 75 Driver License Centers and 26 stand-alone Photo License Centers operated by PennDOT. The agency also partners with 275 online messenger sites. Through a system of decentralized, privatized providers, driver services are available at over 1,700 sites statewide. The privatized system of providers sometimes referred to as auto tag agents or even private DMV offices has existed for over 45 years. This revolution of private DMV Offices has been followed by only five other states. However, Pennsylvania is the only state to separate motor vehicle offices from driver license offices. Driver license centers to this day are all run and owned by PennDOT, unlike motor vehicle offices which are strictly run and controlled by PennDOT however privately owned. An exception to this is at the PennDOT headquarters on Front St. in Harrisburg, which has a large room for all motor vehicle transactions and drivers' license transactions, with a separate room for photographing and issuing licenses to motorists.
There are over 1,700 card agents and full agents, in which 275 online messengers, each of these with incrementally increasing authority as dictated by law and all controlled by PennDOT. Online messengers exist throughout Pennsylvania with the same authorities as DMV offices in other states.
The Planning deputate develops the Twelve Year Transportation Program in collaboration with the federal government and local planning organizations, which guides improvements to transportation in Pennsylvania. It is also in charge of the cash flow from the federal and state governments to fund improvement projects along with working on long-range research and map making.
The Multimodal Transportation deputate oversees aviation, rail freight transport, public transportation, ports, and pedestrian and bicycle transportation. The deputate oversees airports in Pennsylvania, which includes 127 public airports, 243 private airports, and 280 private heliports. Multimodal Transportation also looks over 65 railroads which operate over 5,600 miles (9,000 km) of track in the state. PennDOT oversees bicycle routes across the state, including the state-designated BicyclePA bicycle routes and the portions of the federally-designated United States Bicycle Route System located within Pennsylvania.
PennDOT provides the primary funding for two Amtrak trains in Pennsylvania that operate along the Keystone Corridor. The Keystone Service runs between Harrisburg and New York City via Philadelphia and offers multiple daily departures. The Pennsylvanian runs between Pittsburgh and New York City via Philadelphia and operates once daily in each direction.
The Mulitmodal Transportation deputate supports public transit authorities in Pennsylvania, which consists of 34 agencies providing fixed-route and demand responsive transport to urban and rural areas and 18 agencies providing demand responsive transport only. The deputate also supports intercity bus service in the state.
The Administration deputate is in charge of various bureaus that overlook fiscal management, computer systems, mobile applications, telecommunications, contract compliance, training, employee safety, human resources, office services, facilities management, quality improvements, partnerships with other government agencies and communities, and employees engagement activities. The deputate is also in charge of Pennsylvania Welcome Centers located along major highways entering the state.
Bridges in Pennsylvania
According to a 2011 study by Transportation for America, 26.5% of Pennsylvania's bridges were structurally deficient and the state led the United States with six metropolitan areas with a high percentage of deficient bridges. These figures would have been higher, but the state had recently undertaken a program to quadruple state funding for bridge repairs.
Across the United States, 61,000 bridges are "structurally deficient," which means they need repairs, contain a piece rated as "poor," and might also have a weight limit. The term structurally deficient does not mean a bridge is unsafe for travel. In Pennsylvania, eight of the top ten most traveled structurally deficient bridges are located in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. Overall, the state has 25,000 bridges excluding privately owned bridges, which is the third-largest number of bridges in the U.S. Pennsylvania has launched a program called the Rapid Bridge Replacement project to increase the number of bridges it fixes. The project is a public-private partnership between PennDOT and the private firm Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners. The project fixed almost 700 bridges in 2014.
Administratively PennDOT is divided into engineering districts to localize engineering and maintenance. The following is a table of the districts and their associated headquarters. The statewide headquarters for PennDOT is located in the Keystone Building in Harrisburg.
PennDOT has received criticism over the years. The biggest controversy has been the quality of the roads in the Commonwealth, as Pennsylvania in the past has had among the worst roads in the United States.
- Stringham, Shand H. (2004). "Does Quality Management Work in the Public Sector?". Public Administration and Management: An Interactive Journal. 9 (3): 182–211.
- "PennDOT Fact Book" (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Public Transit Options". Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Keystone Service schedule" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Pennsylvanian schedule" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "The Fix We're In For: The State of Our Nation's Busiest Bridges" (PDF). Metropolitan Bridge Rankings. Transportation for America. October 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-12. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Public-private partnership helps Pennsylvania repair bridges". TI Daily. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Gough, Paul J. (1 April 2015). "How Pennsylvania fares when it comes to structurally deficient bridges (Video)". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Bridge Information". Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
- 10 States With The Worst Roads And Bridges. Business Insider (2010-08-13). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.